Developing Terra Nullius: colonialism, nationalism, and indigeneity in the Andaman Islands

Sen, Uditi (2017) Developing Terra Nullius: colonialism, nationalism, and indigeneity in the Andaman Islands. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 59 (4). pp. 944-973. ISSN 1475-2999

PDF - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (470kB) | Preview


This article explores in detail the legal structures and discursive framings informing the governance of one particular ‘backward’ region of India, the Andaman Islands. It traces the shifting patterns of occupation and development of the Islands in the colonial and post colonial periods, with a special focus on the changes wrought by independence in 1947 and the eventual history of planned development. It demonstrates how intersecting discourses of indigenous savagery/primitivism and the geographical emptiness was repeatedly mobilised in colonial era surveys and post-colonial policy documents. Post colonial visions of developing the Andaman Islands ushered in a settler-colonial governmentality, infused with genocidal fantasies of the ‘dying savage’. Laws professing to protect aboriginal Jarawas actually worked to unilaterally extend Indian sovereignty over the lands and bodies of a community clearly hostile to such incorporation. It questions the current exclusion of India from the global geographies of settler-colonialism and argues that the violent and continuing history of indigenous marginalisation in the Andaman Islands represents a de facto operation of a logic of terra nullius.

Item Type: Article
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies
Identification Number: 10.1017/S0010417517000330
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2018 13:14
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2018 03:10

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View